AUTONOMY AND RELATEDNESS IN MARITAL FUNCTIONING

Authors


  • Lynn A. Rankin-Esquer, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Behavioral Medicine Clinic, Stanford University School of Medicine, 101 Quarry Road, #5542, Stanford, CA 94305.

  • Charles K. Burnett, PhD, University of North Carolina Medical School, CB #3270, Chapel Hill, NC 27599–7080

  • Donal H. Baucom, PhD, Department of Psychology, Davie Hall, CB #3270, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599–7080

  • Norman Epstein, PhD, Department of Family Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to the first author. Electronic mail may be sent via Internet to rankin@leland.stanford.edu

Abstract

The current investigation expands the focus of cognitive behavioral formulations of marriage by exploring the constructs of autonomy and relatendness in marriage. One hundred forty-one married couples matched to the 1990 U.S. census data on age, race, and income completed a number of self-report marital inventories including the Autonomy and Relatendness Inventory (Schaefer, Edgerton, & Burnett, 1991). Autonomy was measured by evaluating spouses' perceptions of the extent to which partners encouraged a sense of independence and individuality for the spouses. Relatedness was measured by evaluating spouses' perceptions of the amount of closeness that partners provided. It was found that autonomy and relatedness were significantly positively correlated with each other, as well as with marital adjustment for both males and females. It was found that for females, the provision of relatedness (as reported by their husbands) was significantly related to the standards that they held for the relationship. In addition, it was found that for females, the provision of relatedness (as reported by their husbands) was significantly related to the standards that husbands held for the relationship. However, no significant relationships were found between husbands' standards and relatedness (either as reported by wives or husbands). It was concluded that it is appropriate to help couples think of autonomy and relatedness as being tow important aspects of marriage that can exist together and are related to a satisfying marriage. Implications of the findings suggest that marital therapists could expand the conceptualization of marital therapy beyond being primarily relationship focused to include attention to individual needs of the spouses. Relatedness was measured by evaluating spouses' perception of the amount of closeness that partners privided. It was found that autonomy and relatedness were significantly positively correlated with each other as well as with marital adjustment for both males and females. It was found that for females, the prpvision of relatedness(as reported by their husbands) was significantly related to the srandards that they held for the relationship. In addition, it was found that for females, the provision of relatedness(as reported by their husbands)was significantly related to the standards that husbands held for the relatinship. How-ever, no significant relationships were found between husbands' standards and

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